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Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

Boston Creamery
Professor John Shank, The Amos Tuck School of Business Administration
Dartmouth College
This case is reprinted from Cases in Cost Management, Shank, J. K. 1996, South Western Publishing
Company. The case was prepared by Professor John Shank from an earlier version he wrote at
Harvard Business School with the assistance of William J. Rauwerdink, Research Assistant.

This case deals with the design and use of formal "profit planning and control"
systems. It was originally set in an ice cream company in 1973, a few years
before the advent of "designer ice cream".

Frank Roberts, Vice-president for Sales and Marketing of the Ice Cream Division of Boston Creamery,
was pleased when he saw the final earnings statement for the division for 2000 (see Exhibit 1). He
knew that it had been a good year for ice cream, but he hadn't expected the results to be quite this

Only the year before the company had installed a new financial planning and control system. This was
the first year that figures comparing budgeted and actual results were available. Jim Peterson,
president of the division, had asked Frank to make a short presentation at the next management
meeting commenting on the major reasons for the favorable operating income variance of $71,700.
Peterson asked him to draft his presentation in the next few days so that the two of them could go
over it before the meeting. Peterson said he wanted to illustrate to the management group how an
analysis of the profit variance could highlight those areas needing corrective attention as well as those
deserving a pat on the back.


Following the four-step approach outlined in the Appendix, the management group of the Ice Cream
Division prepared a profit plan for 2000.

Based on an anticipated overall ice cream market of about 11,440,000 litres in their marketing area
and a market share of 50%, forecasted overall litre sales were 5,720,329 for 2000. Actually, this
forecast was the same as the latest estimate of 1999 actual litre sales. Since the 2000 budget was
being done in October of 1999, final figures for 1999 were not yet available. The latest revised
estimate of actual litre volume for 1999 was thus used. Rather than trying to get too sophisticated on
the first attempt at budgeting, Mr. Peterson had decided just to go with 1999's estimated volume as
2000's goal or forecast. He felt that there was plenty of time in later years to refine the system by
bringing in more formal sales forecasting techniques and concepts.

This same general approach was also followed for variable product standard costs and for fixed costs.
Budgeted costs for 2000 were just expected 1999 results, adjusted for a few items which were clearly
out of line in 1999.

Original Profit Plan for 2000

Standard Contribution Forecasted Forecasted Standard

Margin/litre litre Sales Contribution Margin
Vanilla $.4329 2,409,854 $1,043,200
Chocolate .4535 2,009,061 911,100
Walnut .5713 48,883 28,000
Buttercrunch .4771 262,185 125,000
Cherry Swirl .5153 204,774 105,500
Strawberry .4683 628,560 294,400
Pecan Chip .5359 157,012 84,100
Total $.4530 5,720,329 $2,591,300
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

Breakdown of Budgeted Total Expenses

Variable Costs Fixed Costs Total
Manufacturing $5,888,100 $612,800 $6,500,900
Delivery 187,300 516,300 703,600
Advertising 553,200 -- 553,200
Selling -- 368,800 368,800
Administrative -- 448,000 448,000
Total $6,628,600 $1,945,900 $8,574,500

Sales $9,219,900
Variable Cost of Sales 6,628,600
Contribution Margin 2,591,300
Fixed Costs 1,945,900
Income from Operations $645,400


By the spring of 2000 it had become clear that sales volume for 2000 was going to be higher than
forecast. In fact, actual sales for the year totaled over 5,968,000 litres, an increase of about 248,000
litres over budget. Market research data indicated that the total ice cream market in their marketing
area was 12,180,000 litres for the year as opposed to the budgeted figure of about 11,440,000 litres

A revised profit plan for the year at the actual volume level is shown below.

The fixed costs in the revised profit plan are the same as in the original plan, $1,945,900. The variable
costs, however, have been adjusted to reflect the actual volume level of 5,968,000 litres instead of the
forecasted volume of 5,720,000 litres, thereby eliminating all cost variances due strictly to the
difference between planned volume and actual volume

For costs which are highly volume dependent, variances should be based on a budget which reflects
the volume of operations actually attained. Since the level of fixed costs is independent of volume
anyway, it is not necessary to adjust the budget for these items for volume differences. The original
budget for fixed-cost items is still appropriate.

Assume, for example, that cartons are budgeted at $.04 per litre. If we forecast volume of 10,000
litres, the budget allowance for cartons is $400. If we actually sell only 8,000 litres but use $350 worth
of cartons, it is misleading to say that there is a favorable variance of $50 ($350-$400). The variance
is clearly unfavorable by $30 ($350-$320). This only shows up if we adjust the budget to the actual
volume level:

Carton Allowance = $.04 per litre

Forecast Volume = 10,000 litres
Carton Budget = $400
Actual Volume = 8,000 litres
Actual Carton Expense = $350
Variance (Based on Forecast Volume) = $400 - $350 = $50F
Variance (Based on Actual Volume) = $320 - $350 = $30U
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

Revised Profit Plan for 2000

(Budgeted Profit at Actual Volume)

Standard Contribution Actual litre Standard Contribution

Margin/litre Sales Margin
Vanilla $.4329 2,458,212 $1,064,200
Chocolate .4535 2,018,525 915,400
Walnut .5713 50,124 28,600
Buttercrunch .4771 268,839 128,300
Cherry Swirl .5153 261,240 134,600
Strawberry .4683 747,049 349,800
Pecan Chip .5359 164,377 88,100
Total $.4539 5,968,366 $2,709,000

Breakdown of Budgeted Total Expenses

Variable Costs Fixed Costs Total
Manufacturing $6,113,100 $612,800 $6,725,900
Delivery 244,500 516,300 760,800
Advertising 578,700 -- 578,700
Selling -- 368,800 368,800
Administrative -- 448,000 448,000
Total $6,936,300 $1,945,900 $8,882,200

Sales $9,645,300
Variable Cost of Sales 6,936,300
Contribution Margin 2,709,000
Fixed Costs 1,945,900
Income from Operations $763,100


Exhibit 1 is the earnings statement for the division for the year. The figures for the month of December
have been excluded for the purposes of this case. Exhibit 2 is the detailed expense breakdown for the
manufacturing department. The detailed expense breakdowns for the other departments have been
excluded for purposes of this case.

Three days after Jim Peterson asked Frank Roberts to pull together a presentation for the
management committee analyzing the profit variance for 2000, Frank came into Jim's office to review
his first draft. He showed Jim the following schedule:

Favorable Variance Due to Sales:

Volume $117,700F
Price 12,000F $129,700F
Unfavorable Variance Due to Operations:
Manufacturing $99,000U
Delivery 54,000F
Advertising 29,000U
Selling 6,000F
Administration 10,000F 58,000U
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

Net Variance - Favorable $71,700F

This price variance is the difference between actual sales value of the litres actually sold and the
standard sales value ($9,657,300 - $9,645,300).

Frank said that he planned to give each member of the management committee a copy of this
schedule and then to comment briefly on each of the items. Jim Peterson said he thought the
schedule was okay as far as it went, but that it just didn't highlight things in a manner which indicated
what corrective actions should be taken in 2001 or indicated the real causes for the favorable overall
variance. Which elements were uncontrollable, for example? He suggested that Frank try to break
down the sales volume variance into the part attributable to sales mix, the part attributable to market
share shifts, and the part actually attributable to overall volume changes. He also suggested breaking
down the unfavorable manufacturing variance to indicate what main corrective actions are called for in
2001. For example, he said, how much of the total was due to price differences versus quantity
differences? Since the division was a pure "price taker" for commodities like milk and sugar, he
wondered how to best treat the price variances. Finally, he suggested that Frank call on John Vance,
the corporate controller, if he needed some help in the mechanics of breaking out these different

As Frank Roberts returned to his office, he considered Jim Peterson's suggestion of getting John
Vance involved in revising the variance report. Frank did not want to consult John Vance unless it was
absolutely necessary because he thought Vance always went overboard on the technical aspects of
any accounting problem. Frank couldn't imagine a quicker way to put people to sleep than to throw
one of Vance's number-filled six-page memos at them. Jim Peterson specifically wants a nontechnical
presentation, Frank thought to himself, and that rules out John Vance. Besides, he thought, you don't
have to be a CPA to focus on the key variance areas from a general management viewpoint.

A telephone call to John Vance asking about any written materials dealing with mix variances and
volume variances produced, in the following day's mail, the document shown here as the Appendix.
Vance said to see Exhibit A for the variance analysis breakdown. Armed with this document and his
common sense, Frank Roberts dug in again to the task of preparing a nontechnical breakdown of the
profit variance for the year.

The next day Frank Roberts learned that his counterpart, John Parker, Vice President for
Manufacturing and Operations, had seen the draft variance report and was very unhappy about it.
Roberts and Parker were the only two vice presidents in the division. Parker had apparently told Jim
Peterson that he felt Roberts was "playing games" with the numbers to make himself look good at
Parker's expense. Organizationally, Sales, Marketing and Advertising reported to Roberts and
Manufacturing, Delivery and Administration to Parker.


1. What changes, if any, would you make in the variance analysis schedule proposed by Frank
Roberts? Can the suggestions offered by Jim Peterson be incorporated without making the
schedule "too technical"?

2. Can you speculate about how John Parker might structure the variance analysis report. For
example, Parker felt it was Marketing's responsibility to set prices so as to recover all
commodity cost increases.

3. Indicate the corrective actions you would recommend for 2001, based on the profit variance
analysis. Also indicate those areas which deserve commendation for 2000 performance.

4. The approach to "profit planning and control" described in the case is still very common today.
Many people still consider this approach to be "bread and butter" management theory. What
do you see as the main weakness in this approach to management? What is your overall
assessment of this "management tool", from a contemporary perspective?
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

Earnings Statement
December 31, 2000

Month Year-to-Date
Actual Flexible Budget Actual Flexible Budget
Sales-Net $9,657,300 $9,645,300
Manufacturing Cost (Schedule A-2a) 6,824,900* 6,725,900
Delivery (Schedule A-3)** 706,800 760,800
Advertising (Schedule A-4) 607,700 578,700
Selling (Schedule A-5) 362,800 368,800
Administrative (Schedule A-6) 438,000 448,000
Total Expenses $8,940,200 $8,882,200
Income from Operations $717,100 $763,100

Variance Analysis in Exhibit 3.

Schedules A-3 through A-6 have not been included in this case. Schedule A-2 is reproduced as Exhibit 2.
* See Exhibit 3.
Note - In 2000 the company changed from an advertising "budget" of $.06 per litre sold to a "budget" of 6% of Sales.

Schedule A-2
Manufacturing Cost of Goods Sold
December 31, 2000

Month Year-to-Date
Actual Flexible Actual Flexible Budget
Variable Costs
Dairy Ingredients $3,679,900 $3,648,500
Milk Price Variance 57,300 --
Sugar 599,900 596,800
Sugar Price Variance 23,400 --
Flavoring (Including Fruit and Nuts) 946,800 982,100
Cartons 567,200 566,900
Plastic Wrap 28,700 29,800
Additives 235,000 251,000
Supplies 31,000 35,000
Miscellaneous 3,000 3,000
Subtotal $6,172,200 $6,113,100

Fixed Costs
Labor - Cartonizing and Freezing** $425,200 $390,800
Labor - Other 41,800 46,000
Repairs 32,200 25,000
Depreciation 81,000 81,000
Electricity and Water 41,500 40,000
Spoilage 31,000 30,000
Subtotal $652,700 $612,800
Total $6,824,900 $6,725,900

**The primary reason for the increase in labor for cartonizing and freezing and decrease in delivery cost was a change during
the year to a new daily truck loading system:
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

Before: Every morning, each route sales delivery driver loads the truck from inventory, based on
today's sales orders, before leaving the plant. Drivers spend up to 2 hours each day loading
the truck before they can begin their sales route.

After: Carton handling workers sort daily production each day onto pallets grouped by delivery truck,
based on tomorrow's sales orders. This substitutes lower cost factory labor for higher cost
driver labor for loading the trucks and also frees up some driver time each day for more
customer contact and point of sales merchandising.

Analysis of Variance from Forecasted Operating Income

Month Year to Date

(1) Actual Income from Operations $717,100
(2) Budgeted Income at Forecasted Volume 645,400
(3) Budgeted Income at Actual Volume 763,100
Variance Due to Sales Volume and Mix [(3) minus (2)] 117,700F
Variance Due to Operations [(1) minus (3)] 46,000U
Total Variance [(1) minus (2)] $71,700F

This description of the financial planning and control system is taken from a company operating

The Financial Planning and Control System for the Ice Cream Division

The beginning point in making a profit plan is separating cost into fixed and variable categories. Pure
variable costs require an additional amount with each increase in volume. The manager has little
control over this type of cost other than to avoid waste. The accountant can easily determine the
variable manufacturing cost per unit for any given product or package by using current prices and
yields. Variable marketing cost per unit is based on the allowable rate (for example, $.06 per litre for
advertising). Costs that are not pure variable are classified as fixed, but they, too, will vary
if significant changes in volume occur. There will be varying degrees of sensitivity to volume changes
among these costs, ranging from a point just short of pure variable to an extremely fixed type of
expense which has no relationship to volume.

The reason for differentiating between fixed and variable so emphatically is because variable cost
spending requires no decision; it is dictated by volume. Fixed costs, on the other hand, require a
management judgment and decision to increase or decrease the spending. Sugar is an example of a
pure variable cost. Each change in volume will automatically bring a change in the sugar cost; only the
yield can be controlled. Route salesmen's salaries would be an example of a fixed cost that is fairly
sensitive to volume, but not pure variable. As volume changes, pressure will be felt to increase or
decrease this expense, but management must make the decision; the change in cost level is not
automatic. Depreciation charges for plant would be an example of a relatively extreme fixed cost. Very
large increases in volume can usually be realized before this type of cost is pressured to change.

In both cases of fixed cost, a decision from management is required to increase or decrease the cost.
It is this dilemma that management is constantly facing: to withstand the pressure to increase or be
ready to decrease when the situation demands it. It would be a mistake to set a standard variable cost
for items like route salesmen's salaries or depreciation, based on past performance, because they
must constantly be evaluated for better and more efficient methods of doing the task.

Advertising is the only cost element not fitting the explanation of a variable cost given in the first
paragraph. Advertising costs are set by management decision rather than being an "automatic" cost
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

item like sugar or packaging. In this sense, advertising is like route salesmen's expense. For our
company, however, management has decided that the allowance for advertising expense is equal to
$.06 per litre for the actual number of litres sold. This management decision, therefore, has
transformed advertising into an expense which is treated as variable for profit planning purposes.

Following is an example of the four-step approach to one-year profit planning.

The first step in planning is to develop a unit standard cost for each element of variable cost, by
product and package size. Examples of two different packages for one product are shown below. As
already pointed out, the accountant can do this by using current prices and yields for material costs
and current allowance rates for marketing costs. After the total unit variable cost has been developed,
this amount is subtracted from the selling price to arrive at a standard marginal contribution per unit,
by product and package type.


Regular 1-litre Premium 1-litre

Item Paper Container Plastic Container
Dairy Ingredients $.53 $.79
Sugar .15 .15
Flavor .10 .12
Production .10 .16
Warehouse .06 .08
Transportation .02 .025
Total Manufacturing .96 1.325
Advertising .06 .06
Delivery .04 .04
Total Marketing .10 .10
Packaging .10 .25
Total Variable 1.16 1.675
Selling Price 1.50 2.40
Marginal Contribution per litre .34 .725

Step 2 is perhaps the most critical in making a profit plan, because all plans drive from the anticipated
level of sales activity. Much thought should be given in forecasting a realistic sales level and product
mix. Consideration should be given to the number of days in a given period, as well as to the number
of Fridays and Mondays, as these are two of the heaviest days and will make a difference in the sales

Other factors that should be considered are:

1 General economic conditions of the marketing area

2 Weather

3 Anticipated promotions

4 Competition
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery


January December Total

1 litre, Paper 100,000 100,000 1,200,000
1 litre, Plastic 50,000 50,000 600,000
2 litres, Paper 225,000 225,000 2,700,000
1 litre, Premium 120,000 120,000 1,440,000
Total 495,000 495,000 5,940,000

Step 3 involves setting fixed-cost budgets based on management's judgment as to the need, in light of
the sales forecast. It is here that good planning makes for a profitable operation. The number of routes
needed for both winter and summer volume is planned. The level of manufacturing payroll is set.
Because this system is based on a one-year time frame, manufacturing labor is considered to be a
fixed cost. The level of the manufacturing work force is not really variable until a time frame longer
than one year is adopted. Insurance and taxes are budgeted, and so on. After Step 4 has been
performed, it may be necessary to return to Step 3 and make adjustments to some of the costs that
are discretionary in nature.


January December Total

Manufacturing Expense
Labor $7,280 $7,920 $88,000
Equipment repair 3,332 3,348 40,000
Depreciation 6,668 6,652 80,000
Taxes 3,332 3,348 40,000
Total $20,612 $21,268 $248,000
Delivery Expenses
Salaries - General $10,000 $10,000 $120,000
Salaries - Driver 10,668 10,652 128,000
Helpers 10,668 10,652 128,000
Supplies 668 652 8,000
Total $32,004 $31,956 $384,000
Administrative Expense
Salaries $5,167 $5,163 $62,000
Insurance 1,667 1,663 20,000
Taxes 1,667 1,663 20,000
Depreciation 833 837 10,000
Total $9,334 $9,326 $112,000
Selling Expense
Repairs $2,667 $2,663 $32,000
Gasoline 5,000 5,000 60,000
Salaries 5,000 5,000 60,000
Total $12,667 $12,663 $152,000

Step 4 is the profit plan itself. By combining our marginal contribution developed in Step 1 with our
sales forecast from Step 2, we arrive at a total marginal contribution by month. Subtracting the fixed
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

cost budgeted in Step 3, we have an operating profit by month. If this profit figure is not sufficient, a
new evaluation should be made for Steps 1, 2 and/or 3.


Standard Marginal January

Contribution litres $ Total Year
1 litre, Paper $.340 100,000 $34,000 $408,000
1 litre, Plastic .305 50,000 15,250 183,000
2 litres, Paper .265 225,000 59,625 715,500
1 litre, Premium .725 120,000 87,000 1,044,000
Total Marginal Contribution $.3957 495,000 $195,875 $2,350,500
Fixed Cost (See Step 3)
Manufacturing Expense $20,612 $248,000
Delivery Expense 32,004 384,000
Administrative Expense 9,334 112,000
Selling Expense 12,667 152,000
Total Fixed $74,617 $896,000
Operating Profit $121,258 $1,454,500

Once the plan is completed and the year begins, profit variance is calculated monthly as a
"management control" tool. To illustrate the control system, we will take the month of January and
assume the level of sales activity for the month to be 520,000 litres, as shown below. Looking back at
our sales forecast (Step 2) we see that 495,000 litres had been forecasted. When we apply our
marginal contribution per unit for each product and package, we find that the 520,000 litres have
produced $6,125 less standard contribution than the 495,000 litres would have produced at the
forecasted mix. So even though there has been a nice increase in sales volume, the mix has been
unfavorable. The $6,125 represents the difference between standard profit contribution at forecasted
volume and standard profit contribution at actual volume. It is thus due to differences in volume and to
differences in average mix. The impact of each of these two factors is also shown in Exhibit A:


Actual Standard Total

litre Contribution Standard
Sales Per litre Contribution
1 litre, Paper 90,000 $.340 $30,600
1 litre, Plastic 95,000 .305 28,975
2 litres, Paper 245,000 .265 64,925
1 litre, Premium 90,000 .725 65,250
Total 520,000 $.3649 $189,750
Forecasted Standard Contribution (at 495,000 litres) 195,875
Variance 6,125 U

Planned Actual Difference

litres 495,000 520,000 25,000F
Contribution $195,875 $189,750 $6,125U
Average Std. Contribution $.3957 $.3649 $.0308U

F, favorable; U, unfavorable.
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

Variance Due to Volume

25,000 litresF X $.3957 = $9,892F

Total variance = $6,125U

Variance Due to Mix

$.0308U X 520,000 litres = $16,017U

Exhibit B shows a typical departmental budget sheet for the month of January comparing actual costs
with budget. A sheet is issued for each department, so the person responsible for a particular area of
the business can see the items that are in line and those that need attention. In our example, there is
an unfavorable operating variance of $22,750 ($570,537-$593,287). You should note that the budget
for variable cost items has been adjusted to reflect actual volume, thereby eliminating cost variances
due strictly to the difference between planned and actual volume.


Month Year-to-Date
Actual Flexible Budget Actual Flexible Budget
$312,744 $299,000 Dairy Ingredients
82,304 78,000 Sugar
56,290 55,025 Flavorings
38,770 37,350 Warehouse
70,300 69,225 Production
11,514 11,325 Transportation
$571,922 $549,925 Subtotal - Variable
7,300 7,280 Labor
4,065 3,332 Equipment Repair
6,668 6,668 Depreciation
3,332 3,332 Taxes
$21,365 $20,612 Subtotal - Fixed
$593,287 $570,537 Total

Since the level of fixed costs is independent of volume anyway, it is not necessary to adjust the budget
for these items for volume differences. The original budget for fixed-cost items is still appropriate. The
totals for each department are carried forward to an earnings statement, Exhibit C. We have assumed
all other department's actual and budget are in line, so the only operating variance is the one for
manufacturing. This variance, added to the sales volume and mix variance of $6,125U, results in an
overall variance from the original plan of $28,875U, as shown:


Month Year-to-Date
Actual Flexible Budget Actual Flexible Budget

$867,750 $867,750 Total Ice Cream Sales

$593,287 $570,537 Manufacturing Cost of Goods Sold

52,804 52,804 Delivery Expense
Colin Drury, Management and Cost Accounting – Boston Creamery

31,200 31,200 Advertising Expense

76,075 76,075 Packaging Expense
12,667 12,667 Selling Expense
9,334 9,334 Administrative Expense
$775,367 $752,617 Total Expense

$92,383 $115,133 Operating Profit

Variance Recap
Actual Profit before Taxes 92,383 (1)
Original Profit Plan 121,258 (2)
Revised Profit Plan, Based on Actual Volume 115,133 (3)
Variance Due to Volume and Mix (3-2) = 115,133 - 121,258 = 6,125U
Variance Due to Operations (1-3) = 92,383 - 115,133 = 22,750U
Total Variance (1-2) = 121,258 - 92,383 = 28,875U